Overcoming Gender Stereotypes: Professional Development and Self-Confidence for Future Female Leaders

At CARISCA’s most recent webinar, Overcoming Gender Stereotypes: Professional Development and Self-Confidence for Future Female Leaders on March 3, 2021, Ghanaian supply chain professionals discussed how women can overcome gender stereotypes and advance their careers. This webinar series is designed to include and advance diverse voices in CARISCA’s efforts to build a robust supply chain research center in Ghana.

CARISCA’s Project Director, Jake Kupiec, opened the meeting by emphasizing one of CARISCA’s key objectives: to unlock human potential through gender-based advocacy that can advance supply chain networks in Ghana. She referenced author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk, The danger of a single story, emphasizing Adichie’s point that stereotypes aren’t dangerous because they are false but rather they are an incomplete picture of an individual. She encouraged participants to share their stories with the CARISCA project.

Ms. Patience Bruce, Director of Learning for CARISCA, moderated the session and was optimistic that participants would not only better understand the term “gender stereotypes” but learn how to overcome them and build self-confidence in the workplace

Photo courtesy of Ladybird Logistics

The first speaker, Mrs. Elfreda Dowuona, Sales Operations Manager at MTN Ghana, highlighted the effects of stereotypes on women and offered concrete tips for overcoming these stereotypes, “To build confidence, we have to take responsibility for ourselves. To do this we have to experiment and try new things; through testing your abilities at new endeavors, you will learn that you can rely on yourself.”

Dowuona noted the importance of evaluating the power of stereotypes, and she urged participants to check their own ideas about people who are different, adding that they should think about the stereotypes they may also place on others. “Women in the workplace are expected to act in a certain way, and glass ceilings put women into a cage. On a global scale, women’s talents are not explored.  It’s important that young women develop an action plan for their personal or professional development, and don’t let others distract you from your goals – stick with it!” she said.

The second presenter, Mrs. Nancy Osei Owusu is a Maintenance Manager at Ladybird Logistics, launched in 2017 by Miss Payin Marfo, as the first Ghanaian company to employ only female truck drivers. Since 2018, Ladybird Logistics has trained more than 50 women to be drivers.

Owusu  has been a pivotal part of Ladybird’s accomplishments and she attributes a lot of the company’s success to training future female leaders through instilling confidence and professional development opportunities.

Mrs. Elfreda Dowuona, Sales Operations Manager (Photo courtesy of MTN Ghana)

“When women started driving for Ladybird, they were scared, but we tried to use constant encouragement, and always appreciate the women for what they were doing for us [the company] and for other women. We want our employees to believe in their dreams, deliver excellence, stay committed and build confidence and the right group of stakeholders to create the right team.”

She concluded her presentation by encouraging participants to embrace failure as a learning opportunity, exercise humility and commitment, and embrace and explore new opportunities in an unwavering pursuit to succeed.

Mrs. Nancy Osei Owusu, Ladybird Logistics (Photo courtesy of Ladybird Logistics)

“Do not fear failure as failure is simply an opportunity to begin again. Stay humble and commit to learning more. How you use your brain is up to you. And always embrace and explore new opportunities in an unwavering pursuit to succeed. Don’t always toe the line; spice up whatever you are doing to make yourself unique.”

The webinar concluded with an engaging question and answer session facilitated by Dr. Felicity Asiedu-Appiah, senior lecturer in the Department of Human Resource and Organisational Development at KNUST. Asiedu-Appiah’s research includes work-life intersections, ethical leadership, organisational behaviour and human resource management. 

Felicity ended the webinar by encouraging participants to always seek help when needed. “We cannot do it alone, we cannot say we are doing everything, we need to fall on the support system, ask for help and seek help when needed” 

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